May is the month designated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to promote the attention to the continual nurturing, protection and sustenance of our hearing from birth to our later years. Better Hearing and Speech Month is honored with a theme every year, and this May 2019, the theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan.”
The main goal of Better Hearing and Speech Month is to educate and inform people about the importance of hearing as part of the larger picture of our fitness and communicative well-being at every stage of our lives.
The need for better hearing
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides the following information to prove how important it is that we understand the need for better education and implementation of hearing health:
- Childhood hearing loss can be prevented in over 60% of the cases worldwide.
- People between the ages of 12 to 35 risk their hearing health due to long-term exposure to social and sporting activities and have reached over a billion in number.
- By the year 2050, almost 500 million people worldwide will be afflicted with hearing loss.
There is a multitude of factors that are at play here. Hearing loss can be caused by diseases, infections, pregnancy and childbirth complications and genetic makeup. Some of the prevalent causes consist of aging, harmful exposure at work or social settings, personal practices and medications. It is important to know that there are many acquired causes that we can actually prevent and conditions if addressed can be alleviated if we are informed, resourceful and proactive.
The impact on the quality of life
Loss of hearing can be a slow process. Our bodies learn to adapt, modify and compensate and the danger lies in the lack of attention to the gradual decline. This is one of the reasons ASHA is focusing on the importance of our hearing as we age and continually fight for a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle.
When a person is afflicted with hearing loss, they are often forced to strain in social situations to keep up. Untreated hearing loss can manifest in distorted sounds that the brain has to” fill in”.
Speech can sound muffled and parts of conversation can go altogether unheard. The fatigue that is felt as these experiences accumulate and that the hearing impaired constantly try to navigate, is one of the reasons they withdraw from social and familial activities. Depression, isolation, and lower work productivity are some very common results of hearing loss that has been left undiagnosed and untreated.
Safety is another issue. Our hearing alerts us to situations that require caution on a daily basis.
Whether we are crossing the street, driving or walking by a construction site it is our sense of hearing that warns us of imminent danger.
Do you need a hearing test?
The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders (NIDOCD) has an easy online evaluation and can give you an idea of whether you should get a proper hearing assessment https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/do-you-need-hearing-test. It is suggested that adults take a hearing test once every 10 years and then once every year after the age of 50.
Where do you start?
Contact us at Ascent Audiology and Hearing! Our team of hearing professionals provides comprehensive hearing health services, from screening to testing to fittings.
What are your treatment options?
Did you know that adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them? Your hearing health professional can provide with the information you need and the devices that may be part of your treatment. Technology and research in the medical field provide us with many tools and techniques such as hearing implements, assistive devices, alerting devices, surgical implants, and even lip reading and sign language programs.
Amplification of sound is what hearing devices produce for those with lessened auditory functions. Alerting devices for doorbells and telephones to signal and warn us of real-time events can be installed in your home. For those that suffer from degenerated sensory cells of the cochlear or middle ear, there are implants to circumvent the loss. Once you are properly evaluated, you will have many options as part of your program to alleviate and enrich your natural hearing. It is crucial to get tested as soon as possible to inhibit further decline.
Take the Initiative to Better Your Hearing This May
Consider all the important aspects highlighted by ASHA during Better Hearing and Speech Month. Detection is key to prevention and you can start by making the first call to us at Ascent Audiology & Hearing. Once you take this first step to your hearing health, we can look forward to the longevity of your hearing starting now and into your future!